Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

2 Apr, 2006

New Research Unveils the Link between “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy”

Originally Published: 02 April 2006

A research paper by political scientists from two of America’s top universities has blown the lid off one of the most taboo subjects in the field of international relations – the massive influence of the Israeli lobby in the US political establishment, colleges, think-tanks and the media, and its impact by extension on the security of America, Americans and the world at large.

Entitled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, the paper by John J. Mearsheimer of the Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, says the US “has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around.”

The detailed exposé of the Israeli lobby concludes that nearly everything the US government does in the volatile Middle East – its policies on Palestine, the attack on Iraq, the sabre-rattling at Iran as well as the effort to spread “freedom and democracy” – is designed to serve Israeli interests, which is not necessarily in the interests of America or the rest of the world.

It says that “given the strategic importance of the Middle East and its potential impact on others, both Americans and non-Americans need to understand and address the Lobby’s influence on U.S. policy.”

It says that the Bush administration’s attempt to transform the Middle East “into a community of democracies has helped produce a resilient insurgency in Iraq, a sharp rise in world oil prices, and terrorist bombings in Madrid, London, and Amman. With so much at stake for so many, all countries need to understand the forces that drive U.S. Middle East policy.”

Supported by well-documented facts, the analysis is short, well structured, sharply focussed and free of convoluted academic jargon. While making clear that it does not reflect the views of either Harvard or the University of Chicago, it names many of the key officials, media and think-tanks that it says play key roles in propagating this influence.

The full paper can be found at http://mearsheimer.uchicago.edu/pdfs/IsraelLobby.pdf

It notes: “(Saying) that Israel and the United States are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: rather, the United States has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around. U.S. support for Israel is not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult.

“Equally important, unconditional U.S. support for Israel makes it easier for extremists like bin Laden to rally popular support and to attract recruits. Public opinion polls confirm that Arab populations are deeply hostile to American support for Israel, and the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim world found that “citizens in these countries are genuinely distressed at the plight of the Palestinians and at the role they perceive the United States to be playing.”

It calls for both more accountability and transparency about the impact of the policy.

“Although the Lobby remains a powerful force, the adverse effects of its influence are increasingly difficult to hide. Powerful states can maintain flawed policies for quite some time, but reality cannot be ignored forever.

“What is needed, therefore, is a candid discussion of the Lobby’s influence and a more open debate about U.S. interests in this vital region. Israel’s well-being is one of those interests, but not its continued occupation of the West Bank or its broader regional agenda. Open debate will expose the limits of the strategic and moral case for one-sided U.S. support and could move the United States to a position more consistent with its own national interest, with the interests of the other states in the region, and with Israel’s long-term interests as well.”

The paper says that the Israel Lobby’s power “flows from its unmatched ability to play this game of interest group politics. In its basic operations, it is no different from interest groups like the Farm Lobby, steel and textile workers, and other ethnic lobbies. What sets the Israel Lobby apart is its extraordinary effectiveness.”

The academics say their research relied “heavily on the work of Israeli scholars and journalists, who deserve great credit for shedding light on these issues.” They also drew “on evidence provided by respected Israeli and international human rights organizations… testimony from the Lobby’s own members, as well as testimony from politicians who have worked with them.

“Readers may reject our conclusions, of course, but the evidence on which they rest is not controversial.”

Since the paper’s release, a predictable firestorm has broken out as the Israeli lobby moves to debunk and discredit the critics. This time, however, the seniority of the academics makes it impossible to denounce them as “anti-Semites” or “unpatriotic.”

Initially, according to a report on the website of the Jewish newspaper Forward, [http://forward.com/articles/7548], Jewish organizations held their fire “in order to avoid generating publicity for their critics.” They “are avoiding a frontal debate with the two scholars, while at the same time seeking indirect ways to rebut and discredit the scholars’ arguments.”

By last week, one way had been found. The Wall Street Journal, one of the Israeli lobby mouthpieces cited in the study, ran an op-ed piece by Ruth Wisse, a professor of Yiddish literature at Harvard, who noted that “the American public….now supports Israel with higher levels of confidence than ever before.

“When the authors imply that the bipartisan support ofIsraelin Congress is a result of Jewish influence, they function as classic conspiracy theorists who attribute decisions to nefarious alliances rather than to the choices of a democratic electorate. Their contempt for fellow citizens dictates their claims of a gullible and stupid America. Their insistence that American support for Israel is bought and paid for by the Lobby heaps scorn on American judgment and values.”

Most recently, the Arab News reported on 29 March that Harvard University is to remove its logo from the study in order to distance itself from the paper’s conclusions, a move which only helped to further prove true the paper’s conclusions.

The paper has a number of implications almost certain to be debated in future.

First, it opens the way for moderate pro-American but not necessarily pro-Israeli Jews to condemn and denounce the neocon terrorists and the damage they have done to America with the same vehemence that the neocons demand from moderate Muslims of “Islamic terrorism.”

Secondly, it will certainly increase the vigilance of Australia, Russia, China and India where the Israeli lobby is active, especially India where the code-words “shared values” are being used to market the “war on terror” and boost military ties, even as the neocons work with Hindutva hardliners to infiltrate the Indian media, universities, think-tanks and political establishment.

Finally, it is only a matter of time before academics worldwide begin to probe the financial links between the Israeli lobby and the many multinational corporations and individuals who fund it, which will expose the real agenda behind the popular fad now known as “globalisation.”